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The Joy Project


the best days

A day filled with dances in the kitchen, crafts in the school room, cookie making, tea parties in the tree, bare feet, breezes from the back porch, conversations across the table, kids running in and out and a house full of noise. 

My heart is full tonight. Grateful for days overflowing with evidences of childhood in all directions. 

Grateful to be right here, right, now. This beautiful season of motherhood.



nourishing our souls

There’s beauty to be found everywhere and I don’t want to be too busy or too distracted to notice.

Before I realized it this morning, I had let my to do list take over. I began thinking of tasks I wanted to get done. Groceries that needed to be picked up. And a house that had quickly fallen apart over the weekend that needed tending. 

I didn’t stop to work on my devotion. To nourish my soul through time with God. I didn’t stop to go for my morning walk. I just got busy. And I quickly became agitated and bossy and it didn’t take long until even I didn’t like myself. 

Some days, I have to stop. Reset. And cling to the moments of stillness I can find. I need this and our kids need this. I want to stop and hear their stories. I want to look them in the eyes and affirm them. Let them know they are loved. That they are more important than a list or a clean home. 

Yes, mamas we have responsibilities that must be met. But nourishing our souls. Finding space to see the beauty of our lives each day. That is where I want to be. Thriving, enjoying and living life. Not just getting by, as I make my way down a list.




I used to be so afraid of having a teen. As I watched each year pass, I felt like the best of days were being left behind. That somehow the little years were all there was. I saw teens and I didn’t really know how I would relate as a mother.

Now, I can see the real beauty of every season. These teen years are full of so much life and so much love. Meaningful, heart-filled conversations. Reminders constantly to live fully in the moment. And this closeness that all the years prior has brought us to today. It really is such a gift navigating this time. 

And then the other special part, is getting to know their friends. The people they love. Today, my heart is filled with gratitude. Hours were spent at the beach while I did a shoot for a children’s catalog. These two were an amazing blessing as they chased our almost two year old up and down the beach in the sun. 

Teens. They really are pretty awesome!!! 



why I stay

It seems to be that more and more people are sharing that they have left social media because they walk away feeling not enough, anxious, jealous, depressed, distracted, alone. Choosing to take a break or leave altogether. 

I get it. I understand why. I rarely have time to scroll through my feed to see the images and the "stories" that people share. Yet, when I do, I often see a very scripted world. I see people sharing bits of a life that looks so amazing, yet, I know that it is just that. Pieces of a life. And I can't tell you how many times, I've seen young girls, the age of our oldest, sharing selfie after selfie. Posing and just begging to be seen. As I take time and really look around, I often wonder what is the purpose behind it all.

There's a myriad of reasons for why I could honestly walk away and not look back; yet there is something that keeps me here. And that is the community I have found in women, mothers and other artists. I talk about this in my Expressions of Motherhood breakout and we've been discussing it as a group. There is so much to be learned and gained from one another by being authentic. It has been such a gift, to express and share my motherhood journey with so many other mothers. To connect with ladies across the world that share both similar and strikingly different backgrounds; yet, women who can relate. I want to encourage each of you, to challenge yourself. To be more open. To be more honest. 

When I say all of this, I am not saying to never share your joy. To never share beautiful images. I am not saying that social media should just be a place to complain or share pain either. I realize so many people are guarded and private and each person has their own reason for having social media. And I respect that 100%, I do. I am not judging anyone and gracefully apologize if it sounds that way. 

What I am want to do is to encourage you. To think about what you are sharing. What are you saying as you share that image or that story? And why? Are you just looking down an empty well for fulfillment; through likes or comments. 

Social media isn't the only place that we aren't always being authentic. Social media is just the one that seems to be most visible these days. As mothers, as women, how often do we put on a mask to those we see. At the school drop off line. At the grocery store. When we invite people into our homes. How often do we put on an appearance that everything is okay? The older I have gotten, the more and more I realize how much I crave authenticity. I rather skip past all the surface level talk and really know the heart of you. And I want you to stop and do the same. I want to listen to your triumphs but I also want you to be comfortable enough to share your struggles. I want you to know you are NOT ALONE. Don't we all just want to know that we aren't alone? 

I will leave you today with these words from Rachel Macy Stafford. May each of us strive to remember, someone else may be waiting, to know they aren't alone. I believe social media can be a beautiful thing. It starts with each of us. 

“The tears that streak your face at the most inopportune times of the day, at the most inappropriate moments, are the lines of your story. Each time you own them, someone else is not alone in his or her story. Your jumbled mess, whether whispered as a prayer to one or shouted in desperation to thousands, could be the message someone needs right now. And perhaps by sharing, your pain will ease, your hope will grow, your tomorrow will look a little brighter” 



National best friends day.

You all  informed me that today was National Bestfriends Day. You had  fun playing with your neighborhood buddies and as always baby sister was waiting for your arrival home. Standing at the door as soon as you left saying "bubba bubba ... ee ee ee ee"

I'd say in her world, you are most certainly her best buds who she adores and looks up to so much. It's pretty neat watching you all love each other. 

And do you see those blue skies? The sun returned to Florida today!



Sidewalk paint.

It has rained for days here, but we get outside as fast as we can in between storms. Thankful for the rain, but missing our Florida sunshine. 

Today, we made this sidewalk paint that took all of five minutes to make and provided over an hour of fun. Much needed fresh air for all of us. 

Love watching this little bit become curious about exploring with art. Will be doing lots more of these fun messy activities this summer. 



The glorious mundane.

"How do you do it all? 
You invite the glorious into the mundane "

I am admittedly pretty late to the podcast craze. Better late, than never. Right? 

Yesterday, I began listening to the Podcast of @christynockels : The Glorious in the Mundane. 

If you've followed me for anytime you know my heart is passionate about finding the beauty in the everyday. It isn't just something I do to stay inspired to create art. No, it is a lifeline for me. A way of living and thriving in this season of life called motherhood. 

You see, finding beauty in the everyday, finding the glorious in the mundane, is about so much more than a beautiful picture or a positive outlook. It's about inviting God into all parts of my life. It's about seeing Him and His grace and love and LIGHT in the ordinary moments; especially in the ordinary moments. Talking to Him and seeking Him at the kitchen sink, in the car, and in all the daily messes of life. 

In some ways, I've felt stuck in the valley the past few months as our baby has emerged into a toddler. As she finds her voice and independence. Through tantrums and fits. Through multiple ear infections and teeth emerging on a constant basis. Through sleepless nights. 

No, none of these things are life threatening. And yes, we have so very much to be grateful for. But it's enough to feel weary and worn. To lose patience and grace. To feel frustrated and need to cry out. 

This quote that Christy shared in her intro podcast was such a timely reminder in the midst of an ordinary day. A day filled with struggles and beauty alike. A great reminder to keep seeking and inviting Him in to every moment. And with that invitation, my eyes and heart transform and suddenly everything takes on new light. 



I see you and I love you.

Whenever we go to the pool you ask to swim through my legs. You call out for me to watch you do your underwater flip. You yell mama watch me as you jump from the edge.

Many times my eyes are on baby sister and I can't give you my full attention and then many times I've given you an ungraceful and selfish answer. Today, I want to say I am sorry. 
There have been moments that it feels like you've asked me to watch the same thing a million times. Moments, when I just wanted to sit by the pool side in quiet, lost in my own thoughts. It's quite embarrassing to say this out loud. To admit my own selfish desires and shortcomings. But I have to be honest. I always want to be honest with you children. I am far from perfect. 
The other day I read an article and it reminded me that you won't always be asking for my approval. For my attention. For my praise. It reminded me that there will come a day you won't need me anymore. Not in the same ways you do now. That I won't be such a huge part of your world. I know it. Things will change. No matter what I do or don't do, this is part of the growing process. The words from the article keep going through my mind. They challenge me daily to live fully in these moments because I know one day, it will all be so different. I will long for questions and noise and to be needed. I will long to be right here. 

Today, I want to remind you how much I love you. How much I love being your mama. There will be days that I feel depleted and will need your grace and unyielding love; yet, my prayer is that most days I make it known that I hear you and see you and love you . That I'm so proud of you. And I hope you always know what a gift motherhood truly is for me. 



Never alone

Over the weekend, I was up with this sweet babe multiple times. Another ear infection. Fussiness. And sleepless nights for both of us. 
At one point, I was in tears. Feeling so alone and so exhausted. 
My mind wandered to how many other mothers out there feel alone. 

Sleepless babies.
Temperamental toddlers.
Pre-school children testing their limits.
Children with health issues.
Children with learning disabilities and struggles.
Teens that are rebelling.
Adult children with adult problems. 

Moms, not one of you; not one of us is alone. 

It may feel like it as you look around at others and think they have it so easy; that they have it all together as we see only snippets into their realities. 

As I sat there sleepless and awake in bed, I realized again that these hard moments of motherhood make me appreciate the beauty and simplicity of the other days. That I have empathy for other mothers that I may not have otherwise. That I have a realization of grace I may not have known. That I have a chance to use these moments to grow in ways I may not have seen I needed. And ultimately, that I have a chance to seek Him more and trust that His plan is infinitely better than any plan I could write. 

So to the mama that is reading this and feeling alone, please know, you are not. That there are many mamas going through these same valleys and mountains with you. Maybe not together in proximity, but together in heart. And far better than that, there is a God who loves you immeasurably and will never forsake you. 



Grateful for simplicity.

You have very few toys, but I think you are quite content. You ask  to be "out" all the time. And you could sit and play in the water all day long.

There's a simplicity of life at this age and I'm trying to savor each moment. Yes, there are days this is hard. Tantrums have set in and moods rise and fall. But it doesn't take long to look across the house and see quite vividly how quick this season will pass. Words never seem to truly share how grateful I feel to have this chance again.




As I think back on the day you were born, it feels as real as yesterday. No one could have ever prepared me for motherhood. For the love that would engulf my life in such a powerful way. 
For the past few years, I've watched you change little by little. Truthfully, I was nervous as I began to feel the shift and as you began to travel through foreign waters. 

Today, I feel a peace as I see the beautiful young lady you are becoming. You are filled with grace, love and wisdom beyond your years. Your faith in Jesus continues to grow and I've seen you lean on Him for strength and understanding. I'm so thankful for you and the lessons you continue to teach me. My prayer, is to be fully present in these days with you; to guide you and love you right where you are. I realize more than ever how precious our days, talks and moments together truly are. 

In those early years, it felt like we had forever together. Today, as we celebrate 13 years of you, forever doesn't seem like enough.



13 months

This little ray of sunshine is 13 months today. I couldn't help but think back to a year ago today. You were still so tiny... trying to gain weight. Reflux. Gas pains. I felt overwhelmed and at a loss for how to soothe you. I worried it would last forever. Goodness the newborn days are so bittersweet. Hard and tiring yet so beautiful too. Thankful for God's provision and grace giving me the strength I needed. 

And here we are today. You are the most smiley, waving, happy baby I could dream of. You are now taking steps. Eating non stop and still nursing pretty much non stop too. And yes... you love, love, love your baths. 




I don’t remember any of our other children crawling like this. You've scooted like this across our floors with lightning speed for the past few months. This is the way you have moved since you started moving. And I love it. It is the most precious thing watching you carry your beloved item of the moment with one hand, and scoot with the other. For weeks, you have taken one step, two steps, and now will walk a handful of steps before losing balance. I realize your days of scooting are numbered, which makes me cherish this image even more




The wonder of childhood is really something beautiful.

Today, I had the chance to read part of an advanced copy of Only Love Today, written by Rachel Stafford of  Hands Free Revolution . I read the first part and then thumbed through until I landed on this part of the book called Acceptance. I cannot wait to dive in and read more, as this spoke to me so much this afternoon.

As I read these couple of pages, I realized I have been at fault comparing our children at times. Sometimes, silently, but sometimes, aloud. I don’t want to do this, but with multiple children it happens (even with the simplicity of what they ate as babies and so forth). I strive for each child to know how truly loved they are. How accepted they are JUST THE WAY THEY ARE RIGHT NOW. There is a time for correcting, lessons to be learned, and room for growth, but there is so much more time for Grace , love and acceptance. I know, as a mother, a wife, and a daughter; these things mean so much to me. To be recognized and loved right where I am. I pray my children will know without a doubt that my love for them is never conditional. And not only that, that I am amazed by them. In awe of them. Right where they are.

Here are some words that Rachel shares about acceptance. I love the way she beautifully reminds us to see the wonder in our children. I believe this is something for all of us, no matter what ages our children are today.

"When it comes to my loved one’s future, I cannot predict. So let me stop.
I cannot accelerate. So let me pause.
I cannot control. So let me release.
But there is something I can do. There is something we can all do to celebrate our loved ones for who they are now, rather than what their current skills or interests indicate they might become.
We can wonder.
To wonder about you is to know you, to see you, to delight in you just as you are.
To wonder about you is to love you in the most empowering way possible.
Today I invite you to join me in the act of wondering in an effort to enhance futures rather than diminish them. 
Take a look: 
To the child who’d rather catch butterflies than fly balls….to the child who wants to play catch ‘til the sun goes down…
You are a wonder.
To the child who prefers solitude…
To the child who prefers an audience…
You are a wonder. 

To the child who does things in her own way, in her own time…
To the child who forges ahead with no sign of slowing down..
You are a wonder.
To the child who wears his heart on his sleeve.. To the child who wears a costume to the supermarket..
You are a wonder. 

To the child whose butterfly colors light up a room.. To the child whose firefly light shines quietly from within…
You are a wonder. 

To the child who questions everything about life.. To the child whose inherent knowledge runs deep…
You are a wonder. 

So go on, extraordinary one.
Live and let live.
Love and be loved.
Bloom in time-in your own time.
Now I see you for who you really are.
And you are a wonder.
I am sorry I didn’t see it before.
I see it now.
I see it now.
You are a wonder.
I’ll be watching proudly with glistening eyes to see what your future holds.
Today I will love my people “as is” Instead of harping on their bad habits, low marks, messy rooms, or future pursuits, I will pause and simply marvel at who they are at this very moment. In that sacred pause I take to marvel, there’ll be room for love and acceptance to come in.”